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  (Source: Dreamworks)

One of the scanning billboards springs into action.  (Source: AFP)
Is technology another great step in advertising or an outrageous violation of privacy?

In Tokyo Big Brother is really watching you -- but Big Brother is actually big business.  Businesses on the island nation are reportedly rolling out advertising billboards with cameras that scan nearby viewers' age and sex.  Japanese firms believe they can use these metrics, much like internet advertising, to better target customers.

The project, the Digital Signage Promotion Project, was launched by 11 railroad companies last month.  Twenty-seven of the vigilant billboards are deployed in subway commuter stations around Tokyo.

A spokeperson describes, "The camera can distinguish a person's sex and approximate age, even if the person only walks by in front of the display, at least if he or she looks at the screen for a second."

The station can then serve up ads "which meet the interest of people who use the station at a certain time."

The invention mirrors the smart billboards found in the movie "Minority Report" directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise.  In that film Cruise's character is recognized by advertising billboards which say his name aloud, endangering him when he's on the run form the law.

Currently the Japanese experiment does not recognize individuals -- only basic demographic data.  And the companies involve promise that video of their passing customers won't be stored.

Japan is often a nation who takes an edgy stance on privacy.  A Japanese firm recently created a stir when it released a "caring", "mothering" system to help businesses snoop on their employees cell phones.


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RE: Doubt it...
By tedrodai on 7/16/2010 11:06:32 AM , Rating: 2
You may be right...cause even a stick like me occassionally finds some ads interresting.

I'm 28 and haven't watched broadcasted TV for 5 years, except
1) football and the random sport
2) when it's the social thing to do (usually when the wife really wants to watch TV and also wants me to stay in the room)

I used to watch as much TV as the average joe, but those freaking ads just kept getting more and more annoying. If I find a show worth watching, I much prefer to watch it online at the station's website (which hasn't gotten too annoying yet for me) or just stream the DVDs through Netflix when they're available.

Some ads literraly make me cringe and want to turn off the TV then and there (ex: every Orbit gum commercial).


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton














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